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Tradition of weaving ikat saris kept alive
23
Dec '08
The word “ikat” means “to bind”. It is a very ancient way of creating designs in fabric by a tie-dye method by the traditional means of handloom weaving. The ikat hand woven fabric has a tradition going back by centuries and is woven by many Asian communities including Thailand and other countries in the sub-continent.

In India the tradition has been kept alive by rural artisans from Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. The Andhra Pradesh handloom weavers are a small handloom tribal weaving community hailing from the rural heartlands of Andhra Pradesh, from an area called Samsthan Narayanpur in Nalgonda district.

The skills of this small but artistic community are hard to believe. They interweave reams of silk with a skill handed down over centuries to create saris with precision of pattern and colour conjunction.

The technique of weaving an ikat sari is intrinsic and akin to calculations made in any technical set up. It requires specific computation that focuses on symmetry without disturbing the outward appearance of the fabric. Each and every inch design in the woven sari is carefully calculated to maintain the evenness of the design.

The normal way of weaving an ikat fabric is the weft based method while the handloom weavers of Samsthan Narayanpur use the warp based method. The artisans also used to weave the double ikat (warp and weft method), but since it is very time consuming, is woven only on receiving an order nowadays.

The silk yarn goes through a complex stage of processing, all done by hands and is given a rich shade of color wherein the shades are derivatives of a few primary colours. A basic 48 inch width fabric has 4850 warp yarn ends on to which the design and colour is worked upon. The sari when ready has a complex and myriad design and a rich hue of colours which can catch the eye of a discerning customer.

The number of weavers though is diminishing with each passing year, with the younger generation switching to more productive activities. Ikat saris made elsewhere though continue to be sold in the name of Pochampally, which only a careful buyer may be able to differentiate. It goes to the credit of this small weaver community, that has kept alive this centuries old traditional way of weaving a fabric.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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